We used a guide book and a set of maps to help find our way down the length of the USA’s west coast.
Often simply referred to as ‘The Book’, Tom Kirkendall and Vicky Spring’s Bicycling The Pacific Coast Highway was an invaluable source of information and we would highly recommend it to potential PCH cyclists.
The maps in the book are basic but the directions are great and the extra information is incredibly helpful. This varies from where the last grocery store of the day is located, to which campsite accepts hiker/bikers or has showers etc.
Despite ‘The Book’s’ strengths, its maps aren’t great and if you deviate from the route you can soon find yourself lost. This is why we also took the Adventure Cycling Association’s set of five maps dedicated to the Pacific Coast Highway. They provide a detailed route created by cyclists for cyclists. However, at around $70 they aren’t cheap and we met people who simply picked up free state cycling maps along the way, which is another option.
As a general rule, ‘The Book’ didn’t mind taking you on a few busier roads and freeways whereas the Adventure Cycling Association maps did everything it could to avoid these. However, the busier roads and even the freeways were almost always fine and often fun to ride on, featuring huge shoulders and courteous motorists. We found the alternative routes offered by the maps often added unnecessary extra miles and hills to a day’s ride.
We based much of our journey on ‘The Book’ and used the maps as a back up. But we never stuck too rigidly to either, making sure we explored new places, took recommendations from new friends and created our own unique journey down the USA’s Pacific Coast Highway.